Forbes: IPCC Report Confirms What Businesses Already Know - Extreme Weather & Climate Change Has Economic Impacts
The brouhaha over a newly released batch of climate scientists’ hacked emails should be ignored. It is nothing more than a bald attempt to derail international climate talks and distract from the increasingly rock solid research confirming that climate change is real and that more extreme weather is on the way unless we dramatically reduce carbon pollution.
Just last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a Special Report examining the link between extreme weather events and climate change. It found that climate change is indeed responsible for the increased frequency of pronounced heat waves, heavy rainfall events and other erratic and destructive weather events.
Beyond the human and ecological toll, extreme weather reaps huge economic costs.
2011 has been one of the most costly years on record for extreme weather events in the U.S. with more billion-dollar events than ever before. Drought and wildfire in the Southwest and Southern Plains, for example, cost more than $9 billion in direct damages to cattle, agriculture and infrastructure.
Business and financial leaders are already feeling the effects of climate change and doing their best to prepare for an uncertain future. Just listen to what some of them have to say:
“[The IPCC report is] important evidence that climate change is already causing disruption in may parts of the world….We’ve been telling investors both directly and through our research they that must take account for climate risk into their portfolios.” Mark Fulton, Global Head, Climate Change Investment Research, Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors
“The insurance sector is heavily exposed to climate change due to the potential for an increase in losses from severe weather impacts. … In our opinion, it is essential for society to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change by building climate risk considerations into the decision making process.” Mark Way, Senior Vice President, Head Sustainability Americas, Swiss Re, a major global reinsurer
“For our brewery, growth depends on abundant clean water and quality barley and hops—and climate change puts those ingredients at risk. Our supply chain—including barley, hops and water—is especially vulnerable to weather in the short-term and to climate change in the long-term.” Jenn Orgolini, Sustainability Director, New Belgium Brewing Co, the third-largest craft brewing company in the U.S.
“In recent years, U.S. farmers have faced every extreme weather event highlighted in the IPCC report, including extreme temperatures on the high and cold side, extended flooding and drought… “Farmers are having to spend more of their operating budgets to insure themselves resulting in smaller margins. At the end of the day, farmers are going to make less money and farming is going to become a less sustainable activity, or commodity prices are going to need to climb.” David Friedberg, Founder and CEO, Climate Corporation, insurance company for farmers that monitors and models the weather
“We’re seeing more and more clients beginning to think about and take action to minimize the impact that … climate change will have on their real estate… Companies are thinking twice about locating a mission critical data center in hurricane prone zones or locating energy and water intense operations in areas where reliability and availability might be an issue. Or [they’re] not locating in low lying coastal areas where rising sea levels may impact their real estate.” Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services, Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate company that manages 1.8 billion sq feet of property
“[Starbucks] is now preparing for the possibility of a serious threat to global supplies…What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean.” Jim Hanna, Sustainability Director, Starbucks, on the impacts coffee farmers are seeing from a changing climate with severe hurricanes and more resistant bugs reducing crop yields
The bottom line: Hacked emails are a sideshow and cannot take away from what many business leaders already know and what the IPCC’s extreme weather report confirms. Climate change is real and we’d better buckle our seat belts for more costly extreme weather if we carry on with business as usual.